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Arizona coach: Utah squad ‘big and experienced’

Citizen Staff Writer



All it took was 30 minutes of review and Arizona interim coach Russ Pennell came away impressed with Utah.

“They’re big and experienced. (Center) Luke Nevill is a giant in there 7-2, 260-270 (pounds). He’s a load,” Pennell said.

Nevill is averaging 16.9 points and 9.1 rebounds a game. Four Utes average in double figures scoring.

Nevill will match up against UA 6-foot-10 forward Jordan Hill.

“They are a really good team, a well-oiled machine,” Pennell said, “and they run their stuff very well.”

Utah (24-9) won the Mountain West Conference tournament over the weekend and tied Brigham Young and New Mexico for the conference regular-season title. Utah is playing in its first NCAA Tournament since 2005.

The Utes’ bench is tough, boasting double-figure scorers Tyler Kepkay and Shaun Green. The Utes will be tough at crunch time as they shoot 78 percent from the free-throw line, though the team ranks near the bottom of the country in turnover margin and steals.

Utah beat Gonzaga, LSU and Brigham Young and finished strong with 12 wins in its last 14.

Pennell called the Mountain West a “good conference.”

“We respect it,” he said. “We beat San Diego State and struggled against UNLV (79-64 loss). It’ll be a good matchup for us. Utah had a phenomenal year. I haven’t seen them enough to make big judgments on them, but they are inside-oriented and can shoot the three.”

Utah was good enough to gain the Mountain West’s highest seed ever, one better than No. 6 Utah received four years ago when it went to the Sweet 16.

“I don’t think anyone was expecting a five seed,” Green told the Salt Lake Tribune, “because we shared our conference regular-season [title]. But the tournament, I think, is what got us a five seed. We’re playing really well right now . . . and now we’re excited to go to Miami.”

Added Nevill: “We couldn’t ask for anything better.”

Coach Jim Boylen said it was an “awesome accomplishment” to be seeded so well, adding that the Utes earned it by playing a tough schedule and beating TCU, Wyoming and San Diego State to win the conference tournament.

Now comes its trip to Miami.

“It’s a long ride, but it’s a great place to play,” Boylen said. “We say we’ll play anyone, anytime, anywhere, and we’ll be ready to play down there.”

Salt Lake Tribune writer Michael Lewis contributed to this article.


Arizona Utah

19-13 Record 24-9

72.2 Points per game 71.2

68.4 Points allowed 64.0

33.9 Rebounds per game 35.1

47.5 Field goal % 47.6

43.6 FG % defense 40.1

62 RPI ranking 9

2-9 Away games 6-7

7-5 Last 12 10-2

6-10 vs. RPI top 50 5-5


Starters: F Jordan Hill, 6-10, Jr. (18.5 ppg, 11.0 rpg, 54.8 FG); F Chase Budinger, 6-7, Jr. (18.2 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 3.4 apg, 41.0 3FG); G Nic? Wise, 5-10, Jr. (15.0 ppg, 4.6 apg, 42.4 3FG, 83.6 FT); F Jamelle Horne?, 6-6, So. (6.7 ppg, 5.1 rpg); G Kyle Fogg, 6-2, Fr. (6.2 ppg).

Reserves: G Zane Johnson, 6-5, So. (4.9 ppg, 40.0 3FG); G Garland Judkins, 6-3, Fr. (2.4 ppg).


Starters: G Lawrence Borha, 6-3, Sr. (11.9 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 46.2 FG, 42.2 3FG, 84.9 FT); G Carlon Brown, 6-5, So. (9.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 3.4 apg, 46.4 FG, 67.8 FT); G Luka Drca,? 6-5, Jr. (7.9 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 3.3 apg, 48.5 FG, 43.8 3FG, 79.1 FT); C Luke Nevill, 7-2, Sr. (16.9 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 2.7 bpg, 60.5 FG, 79.3 FT); F Kim Tillie, 6-10, Jr. (3.1 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 39.4 FG, 85.0 FT)

Reserves: G Tyler Kepkay,? 6-0, Sr. (10.6 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 34.7 3FG, 85.0 FT); F Shaun Green, 6-8, Sr. (10.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 47.3 FG, 40.4 3FG).

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